Shock Therapy: Bootstrapping Hyperproductive Scrum

by || 09/03/2008

Scott Downey, MySpace Agile Coach, has a way of bootstrapping Scrum teams to a high performing state in a company that is about 1/3 waterfall, 1/3 ScrumButt with project managers, and 1/3 pure Scrum with only Scrum roles. Scott consistently takes teams to 240% of the velocity of MySpace waterfall teams in an average of 2.9 days per team member where the team includes the ScrumMaster and Product Owner.

At OpenView Venture Partners, we see portfolio companies with aggressive implementation of Scrum triple velocity in three Sprints (usually 2 week Sprints). Scott uses one week Sprints and it takes him about three Sprints.

I heard similar stories from an Agile leader at JayWay in Sweden. Using a forceful and mandatory way of implementing Scrum and good engineering practices, that Agile leader got similar results to MySpace.

Rob Mee at Pivotal Labs in San Francisco uses a forceful total XP immersion experience to bootstrap teams. They do everything exactly his way for three months. After that they have full body understanding of the Agile motion and he can send them on their way. It has worked well on 40 startups so far.

It may be that great Scrum teams need to go to boot camp or give themselves Shock Therapy in the same way a student of the martial arts gets thrown for a loop the first night on the mat and it never lets up until he masters the practice with his body as well as the mind.

I encouraged Scott Downey at MySpace to share his strategy with Björn Granvik, the CTO of JayWay in Sweden, and he wrote the details below. I’ll be sharing this at Google in New York tonight along with thoughts on the Cosmic Stopping Problem and Punctuated Equilibrium and how they relate to the effects seen by Scott. For that, you will have to wait for the Google video.